The Five Taxations 五勞 Part II

Awhile ago I started writing about the Five Taxations (五勞), a list of 5 damages caused by overuse or overexertion found in the Xuan Ming Wu Qi (Wide Promulgation of the Five Qi, Su Wen 23). The first was taxation of the Blood, so today I’ll continue with a short discussion of the second taxation.

After the discussion of blood, the Su Wen tells us that “lying down for a long time damages the Qi” (久臥傷氣). This is taxation that, according to Wang Bing, is associated with the Lung.

The Jing Mai Bie Lun (SW21) says, “The Lung invites the hundred vessels to have audience with it” (肺朝百脈). The Lung is the canopy that covers all the other viscera and bowels, and it is the Lung that orders the Qi movement in the body, which is why the Ling Lan Mi Dian Lun (SW8) says that order and moderation originate with the Lung (治節出焉). Remember, the Latter Heaven production of Qi starts with Spleen and Lung, but it is the Lung that orders the Qi, separating it into Ying and Wei, and then distributes it through all the channels and vessels.

When the Neijing says lying down for long periods of time, it means we are physically inactive. Physical movement moves the Qi, one of the main reasons why in Tung’s acupuncture we frequently combine physical movement with needle stimulation at the same time. When we don’t move enough, over time that alone will create stagnation in the Qi, and eventually this stagnation of Qi will go back to damage the Lung. Thus the Zhi Zhen Yao Da Lun (SW74) says, “All Qi oppression and stagnation, without exception they are associated with the Lung” (諸氣膹鬱,皆屬於肺). Damaged Lung and stagnation of Qi leads to vacuity taxation of the Qi.

One of the reasons exercises like Qigong are so effective is that they combine physical movement with regulated breathing, and therefore my first recommendation for damage to the Qi is Qigong, Taiji or other exercises that combine breathing with movement. In our weekly Qigong classes one of the first exercises we practice are forms that grasp and draw in the Qi of nature (採氣功). In my own body I know that if I am fatigued and my pulse is deep and weak, after Qigong practice not only do I feel refreshed, but my pulse will become stronger and more even throughout all the pulse positions.

In terms of Tung’s acupuncture, one of the best points for the second of the Five Taxations is Huo Fu Hai 33.07. This point is located near Shou San Li LI-10, and it functions to expel wind and depurate the Lungs. In addition it supplements the Qi (and Blood) mainly through the Lung and Kidney Zang – everyone’s homework is to think about why that is the case. In Tung’s original book this point was the only one that he mentioned moxibustion for, and he said that moxa here enhances longevity. In my own clinic I typically apply direct rice-grain sized moxa to this point, and have patients use a tiger warmer to apply moxa at home. Aside from Huo Fu Hai, consider other points like Zheng Hui 1010.01, and the Zu Si Ma Dao Ma group (88.17, 18, 19), the main Dao Ma combination for the Lung Zang.

Next time we move on to sitting for too long. Until then, get outside and enjoy the spring.